Radio Bird Men

Three more CDRs from Ignaz Schick and his new Zarek Online Release Archive label.

The Blind Eye Tales (ZORA004) is credited to Pedro André and Ignaz Schick. A fine combination of subdued, mangled glitch jaunts it up with a semi-industrial trundling sound, as of large metal drums being used to churn vast amounts of toxic liquids or molten steel in a factory. This can lead to mesmerising trance states as much as it does to a numbing of the senses, as if an opiate had been administered to one’s sensitive brain-pan. This was recorded in 2014 in Berlin, at one of the Altes Finanzamt events organised by Pedro André – it was a collective and a venue which he founded and had been running since 2010. The work was later mixed back in his home Portugal by André, with the help of Jonathan Saldanha (with whom he has collaborated). They made this very layered and dense abstract noise with laptops, mixing desk, effects pedals, turntable and sampler, but the process that’s relevant is a kind of mutual infection, each player feeding their slices of food into the blender. With vinyl turntabling and sampling working together, that’s a rich slew of content tumbling away, and it builds on their earlier working method from 2012, which was much more process-heavy – Ignaz Schick making non-specific grinds with his rotating surfaces, to be processed as signals by the computers of André. The short track titles for this set sketch in the sort of “psychedelic jungle dub nightmare” theme that’s not too far away from the dub extravaganzas of Jonathan Saldanha.

I do recall hearing Snake Figures Arkestra in 2009 on their Cooks & Devils mini CD, wondering how two players could be construed as an “orchestra” and also wondering if there was any intended connection to Sun Ra’s bands. This is Ignaz Schick teaming up with Marcel Türkowsky from East Berlin, and this Eight Pieces For Turntables & Tape (ZORA005) appears to be the only other recording that’s been released by the Arkestra. This is in spite of the fact that they rehearsed and worked together almost every day between 2007 and 2009, using their turntables, Walkman device, objects and loop machines, and also performed a few concerts in Berlin. Even so, Schick has to admit that the Arkestra are rather “obscure”. The present CDR has pulled out some recordings from that fecund and fruitful two-year period, to be edited and mixed by Marcel Türkowsky. I can see why they wanted to rescue these lost pieces, which are good examples of glitch manipulations meeting up with rattling objects and old-school tape hacking. The only thing I’m not feeling is much sense of rapport or two-way communication between the two creators; the music comes across as rather distant and faceless.

The Radio Control (ZORA006) release is one of the best in this series, for my money. It’s a clash of turntabling skills – Ignaz Schick doing it with Claus van Bebber, during a 2011 session over three days at Nurnichtnur studios. I realise I haven’t heard enough music by Claus van Bebber, a German turntabler who clearly deserves to be ground in the same groove as the other international creators who have spun their platters in an avant-garde art gallery context, often overlapping with visual art too – Jeck, Marclay, and Tetreault. Van Bebber has made one record with Philip Jeck (the 2002 CD Viny’l’isten) and, like Jeck, favours old-fashioned barely-working devices and second-hand vinyl LPs scavenged from charity shops. This endears me to his work enormously, that and the fact that he seems to have some concern with content and meaning, and isn’t simply about the process of grind and spin. Even so, those who enjoy the latter will find a feast of strangely grating groink on this set, layers of motorised detritus and tonearms barely ploughing their way through accumulated dust and murk on the hard black surfaces. Part of this may be due to Schick adding objects and loopers to the process, although I’m intrigued to learn that van Bebber also used a whammy bar on his set-up, which I always assumed was a device attached to an electric guitar for extra distortion and wobble, and used by guitar heroes adding a flourish at the end of a steamy sex-fuelled solo. The music here has a tremendous amount of detail – precious seconds of a particularly exciting groove from some nameless LP finding their way into the churning morass, at precisely the right moment, sound effects, music and such all ripped out of context and yet finding new connections within this fragmented environment. Claus van Bebber brings a lot of personality and ideas to his work, and this has proven to be a very rewarding meeting of musicians.

All the above from 11 May 2020.